Something that might surprise you about me is that I’m not incredibly outdoorsy. Yes, I work for an environmental organization. Yes, I had a worm bin in my kitchen at one point (which is a story for another day). Yes I like to hike and yes I love animals and don’t even hate bugs. I think what I really dislike is sleeping outside. On the ground. I don’t understand why we can’t stay in a hotel and still hike every day and then shower, go out to dinner, and sleep in a bed every night. In fact, we probably could. And should. Except that my husband is an Eagle Scout.
I know. I think it’s adorable too. So the first summer that we were dating he suggested a backpacking trip and I jumped right on board. I already had a pack and sleeping bag, so we bought a water filter and some dehydrated food and set out for South Manitou island over memorial day weekend. The ferry ride to the island was gorgeous you know we have a thing for Lake Michigan.
We glanced through an old guide book before the trip and decided that of course we would stay at the furthest away and most rustic camp site. And we would take out time getting there, with plenty of side trails and out of the way excursions. On the first day. With our full packs on.
We hiked through the dunes which was gorgeous and hilly and exhausting, but seemed worth it for this lunch spot. The old guide book had warned me that I would be tempted to shoot an entire roll of film from this spot and to save some for the shipwreck hike tomorrow.
We ran/slid all the way down the bluff which was exactly as awesome as we imagined it would be, and we set off to hike along the beach, the perimeter of the island to the back campsite. Sure, it added a few miles to the trek but it was beautiful and we were loving it.
Until we hit the rocks. Hiking on sand with a pack on certainly wasn’t easy, but when the sand changed to softball sized rocks it became especially grueling. We were hot and tired and our packs were heavy and there was nothing we could do but keep walking.
We were so tired and hungry when we got to campsite that we didn’t even look around. We set up in the first designated spot we saw which was heavily wooded and… damp. A bit swampy. And buggy. Shane rehydrated our dinner over the camp stove while I sat still and tried not to freak out. He later confessed to me that I had on my crazy eyes all night and he thought for sure that we’d be on the next ferry out of there.
The next morning we found a new campsite that was dry and bugless and right off the beach, which inspired us to hike back up the dunes and see that shipwreck the guidebook had warned us to save some film for. And in a not so shocking turn of events the hike was longer than we thought and I threw a fit.
We could not get out of there fast enough the next morning. We packed up and started the hike back to the dock extra early- this time straight across the island and not around it. We arrived just in time to hear that the ferry was delayed, possibly until the next day because of severe thunderstorms. Not only might we have to spend another night here, but in a storm no less. Shane curled up with his sleeping bag pulled all the way over his head while I put my rain coat on and sat watch of the horizon, willing the ferry to appear any second. Which it eventually did.
We made it back just fine, and we’ve been trying to convince each other of that ever since. No one died. We didn’t even break up! Surely that’s a testament to how strong our relationship is! You know, we say, looking back on it, it was actually kind of fun. And almost 3 years later we’re finally ready to try again.